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Multiculturalism in College

Posted by on Tuesday, May 28, 2019 in Culture, Diversity, Student Life, Student Organizations, Traditions.

Hello hello, Inside ‘Dores readers! In this post, I’m going to talk about one of my favorite things about coming to college: multiculturalism and religious diversity!

The beautiful Benton Chapel, where evening Mass is held!

I’m a cradle Catholic, so when I came to Vanderbilt, I knew that I was going to attend Catholic masses and be involved in UCat (the Catholic community made up of Vanderbilt and Belmont students that’s a block off-campus). I’ve found really close friends who walk to church with me on Sunday evenings and who I can talk about my faith with. But one of the best parts about Vanderbilt is that you’re also surrounded by people of so many religious and cultural backgrounds, so you have a ton of opportunities to break out of your ‘bubble’. This post is going to be all about the multicultural experiences I’ve had throughout my first year.

My friends and I at Seder dinner (we’re so cute!)

My roommate Elena (I call her Ellie) is Jewish, which has opened so many doors for me to learn more about the awesomeness that is Judaism. Ellie is active in Hillel, which is one of the two Jewish communities available for students on campus. Hillel hosts DELICIOUS Shabbat dinners on Friday evenings that are open to everyone: there’s no gate-keeping, and you don’t have to be Jewish to attend. As the year progressed, word spread within our friend group about the hidden gem that is Shabbat dinner, and eventually, Ellie was bringing enough people along to fill up a whole table! Also, one of the perks of having a Jewish roommate? Getting to celebrate Hanukkah! Back in December, I tagged along with Ellie to a few of the menorah lighting events hosted by Hillel and the other Jewish student group, Chabad. If you haven’t tried latkes, y’all are definitely sleeping on them. By the end of Hanukkah, I’d learned all of the prayers Ellie was saying and could follow along! I also got to celebrate Passover with Ellie and a few other friends a few weeks before the end of the year with Seder (a ceremonial dinner), which was another really special and fun experience.

Basically, even if you’re not Jewish, I highly recommend that you check out Hillel. It’s awesome!

Holi–a traditional Hindu spring festival–is also a really popular celebration on campus for Hindu and non-Hindu students alike. It’s put on by the South Asian Cultural Exchange (SACE), and it is SO COOL. You’ve probably seen the pictures somewhere in Vanderbilt’s promotional material: laughing, white-clad students throwing colored powder at each other and having an absolute blast. SACE’s Holi celebration is all that, and more! There’s music, dancing, and of course, getting absolutely covered in color. Pro tip: definitely wear white so that all the powder getting dumped on you will show through! It’ll get on your clothes for sure, but if you’re anything like me, it will also end up coating your shoes, your face, and even your eyelashes.

All of these things and more are what make Vanderbilt (and college life in general) so special. Most, if not all, cultural and religious orgs on campus are really welcoming and open to anyone who wants to learn more. College is the time where you’ll get to explore the richness of the world’s cultures and traditions in a truly respectful and constructive way. So branch out! Make friends who don’t share your beliefs! Go to events that you’ve never been to before! It’ll make you a better citizen of the world. (If you ever want to experience the wonders of the Catholic Mass, don’t be afraid to reach out to me! I’d be glad to take you.)

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at I really want to hear what’s on your mind!!

Love, Annabel

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